I love taking clients on a Photography Safari and watching there excitement and expressions when we come across Lions Leopards and Cheetah.
The reactions range from complete panic to Zombie like bewilderment. Erratic breathing, breathlessness and shakes are the most common. In fact I remember taking one of my friends, Andrew on his first trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) to help teach him how to approach and position himself in photographing Wildlife.
One morning we came across 6 Nomadic Lions, this was the first time I have ever seen so many males ever in KTP. Andrew was so overcome by the experience his breathing became very erratic and it took a while for me to calm him down enough so he could focus on the subjects and get that photograph.
A close encounter with a Kalahari Lion will always be one of your most rememberable. These creatures are killing machines and muscle power houses. A stare from a lion will put the shivers up anyones back no matter how many times or experiences you may have with these Predators.
Leopards are the most elusive of all the cats, if they don’t want to be seen, then you will not see them. There success is due to their secretive nature and wonderful ability to camouflage within habitats. Sometimes when I point out the location of a leopard to clients on Safari. It takes time for their eyes to adjust and pick out the leopard from its surroundings. Then there is a gasp of amazement of how close they actually are to the Leopard and the fact they were unable to spot him without help.
I have had some amazing encounters with Leopards. At my tent in Grootkolk, KTP, I had a Leopard who stalked me as I sat outside my tent at night. in the Morning when I awoke he would be sleeping outside my tent. Wonderful but slightly scary experience.
Cheetahs tend to be easier to find as long as you know were to look. Shaded areas under small bushes or trees, shade of termite mound in the grasslands …sometimes they make it easy by just sitting high on a grassy knoll as they survey the land for prey.
Watching these speed merchants catch a gazelle is a highlight of any safari ..sometimes photographing them can be difficult. Times like this I rather watch and let the drama unfold. The twist and turns and lightness of foot as these Cheetah glide over the ground is a sight to be hold. Once the prey has been caught the cheetah will sit up and try catch there breath. This is a good photographic opportunity to capture some good portraits. I am always careful not to get too close so I don’t scare away the cheetah from its hard won prize.